KESWICK'S Brennan Townshend won the Three Peaks Race on Saturday, and Hebden's Victoria Wilkinson, who runs for Bingley Harriers, was the first lady to cross the finish line.

It was his first attempt at the Three Peaks Race, but Townshend demonstrated he is a fell runner of great potential when he won the 65th event - beating international athletes including past victors Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens.

The former professional cyclist, who runs for Keswick Athletics Club, planned to visit the Yorkshire Dales last week to reconnoitre the 23.3-mile route over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, but his car broke down, so he just turned up and did his best.

His best already looked promising when the 25-year-old reached the summit of Pen-y-ghent (2,777 feet) in 27 minutes 53 seconds, which gave him a newly introduced spot prize of £100 for the fastest person from the race start in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, near Settle.

Veteran Three Peaks watchers were impressed, but confident Townshend would burn himself out before the finish, but it was not to be.

He was eight seconds faster than the 2014 and 2015 winner Lightfoot and stayed ahead at every checkpoint except the Hill Inn, where he was beaten by two seconds.

Townshend climbed Ingleborough (2,372 feet) 1 minute 27 seconds quicker than Lightfoot and set off down the long sprint to Horton to claim another new £50 spot prize for the fastest decent to the finish in a time of 27 minutes 12 seconds.

Townshend’s winning time of 2 hours 50 minutes 22 seconds claimed the £200 first prize.

He was 4 minutes 19 seconds outside Andy Peace’s record over the current course set in 1996.

Townshend missed the £500 bonus on offer to a record breaker, but plans to return. He said: “I will definitely be back next year. It’s a really nice course.”

On a day of torrential rain, hailstones, sleet, changing visibility and strong winds, Townshend can be proud of his run.

Lightfoot, World Champion Trail Runner in 2013, finished second in 2 hours 52 minutes 5 seconds, his second best time over the Three Peaks.

Carl Bell, 36, also of Keswick AC, finished third in 2 hours 55 minutes 44 seconds ahead of Tom Owens, of Shettlestone Harriers in Glasgow.

Owens won the Three Peaks in 2011 and 2018. Owens, 37, and Lightfoot, 34, are members of the Salomon International Team.

Owens, who left it to the last minute to enter Yorkshire’s “Marathon with Mountains” hoping to be fully fit, has been at Salomon’s medical institute in Annecy in the Rhone Alps with foot and ankle problems and then suffered a glute injury two weeks ago.

The Three Peaks female record holder, Victoria Wilkinson, 40, of Bingley Harriers, was fastest lady in a time of 3 hours 20 minutes 1 second.

Her 2017 record, when she finished 13th, is 3 hours 9 minutes 19 seconds, but her 26th place out of 753 starters on Saturday was two minutes quicker than last year.

Victoria’s 32 minutes 47 seconds to Pen-y-ghent summit claimed the ladies spot prize of £100 for the fastest ascent and she also won another £50 spot prize for the 32 minutes 34 seconds she took to descend from Ingleborough to the finish. These were additional to her £200 prize for being first lady finisher.

The four times Ladies Champion was followed home by Annie Roberts, 24, of Todmorden Harriers, in 68th place in 3 hours 41 minutes 2 seconds.

Third female was first timer Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn, 35, of Keswick AC, who was 81st in 3 hours 45 minutes 7 seconds.

Prizes were presented by Colin Robinson, who ran for Rochdale Harriers when he won the Three Peaks 50 years ago, and his wife, Brenda, who competed in the first women’s race in 1979.

Colin’s time in 1969 of 2 hours 44 minutes 44 seconds was over the original route, which started at the Hill Inn. The current route is significantly longer.